Rapid, low-cost and instrument-free CD4+ cell counting for HIV diagnostics in resource-poor settings†
We present a novel, user-friendly and widely autonomous point-of-care diagnostic to enable HIV monitoring in resource-poor regions where the current pandemic is most prevalent. To specifically isolate magnetically tagged CD4+ cells directly from patient blood, the low-cost and disposable microfluidic chip operates by dual-force CD4+ cell magnetophoresis; whereby the interplay of flow and magnetic fields governs the trajectory of target cells depending on whether the cell binds to a magnetic microbead. Instrument-free pumping is implemented by a finger-actuated elastic membrane; tagged beads are laterally deflected by a small and re-useable permanent magnet. The single-depth and monolithic microfluidic structure can easily be fabricated in a single casting step. After their magnetophoretic isolation from whole blood, estimation of CD4+ cell concentrations is then measured by bright-field inspection of the capture chamber. In addition, an optional fluorescence measurement can be used for confirmation of the bright-field result if required. On-chip CD4+ estimation produces a linear response over the full range of medically relevant CD4+ cell concentrations. Our technology combines high-efficiency capture (93.0 ± 3.3%) and cell enumeration.